A sharp and dramatic range & change of weather & record temps across the Heartland

Across the Corn Belt, a cold front crossing the upper Midwest separates record-setting warmth from sharply colder conditions.  On Monday, all-time February and winter records were established in Midwestern locations such as Moline, Illinois (76°F); Dubuque, Iowa (72°F); and Rochester, Minnesota (69°F).  Early Tuesday, however, temperatures have fallen below 10°F in much of North Dakota.  In the middle Mississippi Valley, a final day of record-setting warmth will again push maximum temperatures to 80°F or higher.  The eastern Corn Belt is bracing for the potential of severe thunderstorms.  

On the Plains, colder air has arrived in Montana and the Dakotas, accompanied by snow.  Temperatures fell below 0°F Tuesday morning in parts of Montana.  In contrast, warmth lingers across the southern half of the Plains, with Tuesday’s high temperatures expected to top 80°F as far north as southeastern Kansas.  An elevated grassfire threat exists on the southern Plains, due to windy, dry weather.  Still, the general lack of drought in key winter wheat production areas has left 70% of the crop in good to excellent condition (by the 25th) in Oklahoma, along with 57% in Kansas and 46% in Texas. 

In the South, rain is falling early Tuesday in an area centered on the Tennessee Valley.  Warmth throughout the region is promoting grass growth and winter grain development.  In addition, seeding of corn and other spring-sown crops is underway across the Deep South. 

In the West, lingering rain and snow showers are broadly affecting the Rockies and Pacific Northwest.  In addition, colder air is arriving, especially across the Northwest.  Water-supply prospects across much of the region have improved in recent weeks, although deficient snowpack remains a concern across the northern tier of the West.  

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